Why Traditional Public Schools Matter

Public schools in America are struggling to survive.

By June Thomson Morris

Chair, Friends of Gables High

Public schools in America are struggling to survive. Each year they are asked to do more with less as their budgets are cut and increasingly shared with charter schools, such as in Florida where our state legislature voted in 2018 (HB 7069) to share local capital funds with charters, taking critically needed money from traditional public schools like Gables High that are needed to maintain the schools’ physical campus. The result is that our neighborhood public school options often look bad as the buildings deteriorate past the point of repair and parents transfer their children elsewhere to better looking new charter schools and expensive private schools.


The good news for Coral Gables Senior High School (CHSHS) is that the academics are arguably better than ever with an International Baccalaureate (IB) Magnet program recognized as a “Top Tier” magnet program nationally with students at Gables accepted into the nation’s top colleges and universities. Gables also has six Academies (Business Management and IT; Design, Education, Hospitality; Health, Public Service and Law; Visual and Performing Arts; Communication, Art, Film and Digital Media; Academy of Finance.) Yet, despite the award-winning academic programs, it is estimated that as few as 10% of high school age students living in Coral Gables attend CGSHS. A major goal of Friends of Gables High is to see that percentage double once the physical campus is repaired and re-imagined.


Why should you care? Especially if you graduated long ago or live in the City of Coral Gables with no children who attend Gables High?


Here’s why: The United States invented public education over 100 years ago. Equal education opportunities are an inherent part of Democracy. An educated public is critical for Democracy to thrive, and the concept of ‘free and equal education for all’ revolutionized the world. However, increasingly, our state and federal elected leaders are abandoning the traditional school model in favor of charter schools and vouchers for private schools, calling it ‘choice,’ as in parents should be able to choose where their children go to school.


Charter schools are public schools and are open to all students residing within a district, yet charter schools are allowed to target students within specific age groups, grade levels, or talents (i.e. academic or artistic talents and interests). In other words, they can be selective. They can also charge tuition and are administered differently from traditional public schools, usually owned by not-for-profit private groups or individuals. Meanwhile, private schools are a very expensive option for parents and even with ‘vouchers’ many families cannot afford the tuition of private schools. The ‘choice’ then is very selective and not at all equal. To get your child into a charter or private school of choice, in reality, is the choice of that school, not the parents’ choice, and more often than not comes with a huge price tag or expensive, time consuming commutes that a majority of families cannot afford. The result, if we continue down this road, is a re-emergence of segregation between the have and the have-nots.


Friends of Gables High realizes the dire need right now to rally on behalf of our greatest traditional public schools, and we are here to tell you that Coral Gables Senior High School is an exemplary school that needs and very much deserves the support of its community and its outstanding alumni, and elected officials. We welcome you to join us in our effort to work alongside the Miami-Dade County Public Schools to salvage the campus and return Gables High to its status as a top high school in the country. It truly takes a village to educate the public on the importance of public school education in our country and to stand behind the educational institutions that made our country great to begin with.


To learn more about Coral Gables Senior High School visit https://www.coralgablescavaliers.org

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